Strategies of Poetic Narrative: Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Eliot

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It is remarkable that some theoretical developments in narratology have bypassed poetic narratives, concentrating almost exclusively on prose fiction. Clare Kinney's original study aims to redress the balance by exploring the distinctive narrative strategies of fictions which unfold in the artificial and self-conscious schemes of language bound by poetic form. Kinney's close readings of three sophisticated poetic narratives, Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book VI of Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and Milton's Paradise Lost, suggest that these diverse works are united by a common tendency to exploit the alternative patterns of lyric in order to defer undesirable conclusions and offer subversive counterplots. Finally, an exploration of Eliot's The Waste Land as poetic 'anti-narrative' leads into a consideration of the ways in which poetic fictions employ their various, inherently double designs - in particular their ability to invoke the resources of lyric - to pre-empt unhappy endings by telling at least two stories at the same time.